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When Lollapalooza announced that Metallica was headlining the 1996 tour, I didn't even balk at the opportunity to go. You see, I am a huge Metallica fan, and given the opportunity and resources, I would see them play anywhere. As fate would have it, Lollapalooza 1996 would be one of those times. The yearly stop for Lollapalooza in Chicago used to be the World Music Theater in Tinley Park, which is located about 45 minutes southwest of its current location in Grant Park. Not too bad of a drive, even with traffic, for most of the people in the Chicagoland area. In 1996 the “Chicago” stop was moved to a new location, the Winnebago County fairgrounds in Pecatonica, IL. Even to those of us who grew up in Illinois, Pecatonica is not exactly well known. It is located roughly two hours northwest of Chicago, just west of Rockford. Needless to say, that was an eye opener. Regardless of the location, my friends and I were in. When the morning of the concert arrived on June 30th, six of us piled into my buddy’s Chevy Blazer and started heading west. It was a warm and sunny Sunday morning, and the temperature was forecast to be in the 90’s with high humidity, which is warmer than normal for the area. After the long and boring (have you ever driven through Illinois?) drive, we finally arrived at our destination around noon…a dirt racetrack in the middle of nowhere. There were two things Is distinctly remember about getting out of the car after parking in the large grass field next to the track. The first was that warm humid air blast as I stepped out into the sun. The other was the smell…we were in farm country. We entered the racetrack after the concert had already started. The first act that I saw was Psychotica. Luckily I only caught the tail end of their performance because they were pretty bizarre and not my type of music…two thumbs down. I had looked forward to seeing the Shaolin Monks, but they never took the stage. We had heard the rumor that some of them had gotten sick and couldn’t appear so they got scratched from the lineup. Strike two on the day for the main stage. As bad as this may sound, I don’t even remember if the Screaming Trees played that day, I may have been walking around at the time, the heat may have been taking its toll on me, or most likely I just plain forgot after 15 years. I do have flashes of memory of checking out the vendors and seeing the travelling “freak show” (for a lack of better term) with displays of body mutilation and S&M, but most of it is a blur and mix of abstract memories dominated by thoughts of how uncomfortable it was outside that day and how sunburn I was getting. I do know, quite clearly, that what I saw next changed my experience to the best concert ever. It started out with Rancid, which was the face of new punk at the time. Tim Armstrong is a true showman and this was the first, but not the last, time I saw Rancid live. They were loud and their music sounded so tight live. Rockford’s very own Cheap Trick was next and any time you get to see a local band that made it big play at home, it’s a special thing. Since they were not listed as one of the main headliners on tour, their appearance was a complete surprise. Then came the Ramones, the fathers of punk rock. They took the stage and tore it up. The lasting memory that I have from their performance was that even though it was sweltering hot, the Ramones were still out there in their big heavy leather jackets. I am so glad I got to see them at least once in my lifetime since later that year they would break up and never play together again. At this point, other than what was going on up on stage, things were miserable at the concert. They had almost run completely out of food, they were out of water (unless you wanted to stand in line and pump water from an underground well), and the cooling tent was packed and they weren’t letting anyone in. In front of the main stage the bouncers kept spraying down the crowd with hoses and the infield of the dirt track was turning into a muddy mess. And as the sun started to set, the mosquitoes came out in force. But Soundgarden was about to take the stage and things were about to get better again…or so I thought. Anyone who has been to a general admission concert knows what it is like to jockey for position to get a better view of the stage. That was no different on this day. My friends and I managed to work our way to within 25 feet of center stage before Soundgarden started. I was not prepared for what happened next. When the band took the stage there was a gigantic surge as people from the back tried to push their way forward. Remember the muddy infield? People were slipping and falling and getting sucked under the crowd surge. I remember the wave of panic you could feel of being afraid that you were going to fall over someone else. After a few minutes it subsided and all that was left was an excellent performance by one of the best grunge bands out of Seattle. After Soundgarden I managed to weasel my way up to within 10 feet of the stage, off to the side, for Metallica. So close you can feel the bass shake your body. My ears rang for three days. They put in another high quality performance...what a good way to end the best musical concert of my life. I wish I could have ended the experience there, on the high note, but there was still the exodus out of Pecatonica. Have you ever seen one of those movies where a city faces an imminent disaster and everyone is trying to flee at once? If you have, then you know what this was like. There were thousands of cars, crawling bumper to bumper east on a two lane (one lane each direction) US highway trying to get to the interstate and back home. It took us just a little over four and a half hours to make it home. I remember getting home, still sweaty, muddy, bug bitten, sunburn, dehydrated, with my ears ringing, and looking forward to the two hours of sleep I was going to get before work (since it was a Sunday concert) thinking “That was AWESOME!” Totally worth it. 15 years later that view has not changed.
The lineup was incredible but my favorite moment, after clearing out a mosh pit, was when my friend jumped on stage with the Wu Tang Clan, grabbed the mic from Method Man and gave a shout out to Yonkers (our hometown Yonkers, NY). My friend then, for some unknown reason, took his sneakers off and threw them into the crowd. He went barefoot the rest of the day. Good times.
But I had been to them all up until this one and I really wanted to go. Finially my friend who was a huge Metalica fan informed me he was going to drive up to the State Fairgrounds in0 Syracuse, NY. I felt the need to go with him. We slept in the car for several days. It was really fun.
As a kid while I was growing up me and my brother were strangers. When I was born he was graduating High School and then going off to college. So, needless to say he was never really around when I was young. When he returned from college he moved back near home and I remember going over to his house and admiring his music collection. I would listen to his cd's all the time. I admired my big brother so much, he went to concerts and shows all the time. I always wished I could go with him. He was going to Woodstock and I remember asking my parents if I could go but they said I was to young to go. I remember being upset that I couldn't. Then one lucky day a couple of years later, my brother asked my parents if I could go to Lollapalooza in NC, my parents agreed since it wasn't too far from home. I was ecstatic, I was 13 years old and was going to an outdoor festival with my Big Bro. When we arrived to Lollapalooza the first thing I did was buy a T-shirt (which I still have) and a Cat in the Hat, Hat. I was so excited. The bands were awesome, atmosphere, people....everything. I had so much fun. The most memorable moments to me were the hot day standing under mist tents, a dude passing out on me in line causing me to spill my drink and pizza, being in my first mosh pit, staying up all night and dancing with my brother. I will never forget this experience I had and would love to experience Lollapalooza again one day. Thanks!
i don't exactly remember where i was.. I believe it was "deer creek". Indy. My girlfriends dad brought out to see the ramones. There was a rumour that it was going to be the final tour, and since we didn't get tickets to the dead in chicago...(thankfully). We didn't want to miss out on any more bands before the kicked up the dust. I went to a lot of shows back then. Indy, and Kalamazoo where always bringing it back then. So.. as most concerts that are worth going to..it started to pour. I think it was Wayln Jennings up there.. but i was just watching out for the flying grass chunks and two litters that flew erywere. It rained that entire set... and then it stopped. everyone was soaked and i was muddy. 1st real hippy slide, in my concert shirt. <-- total adhd teen. By the way, I was 18 years old. SO, Highlight real of the night was this just massive build-up. Rancid came out and it was punk and we moshed and thought that we were cool. But what I didn't know was in 15 minutes, I was about to be in the biggest clusterfuck of fists i've ever seen. As soon as the first ramones riff popped I could see it festering stage left... ooooh. Like a ripple of rage flowing straight from hell, and I wanted in. As a bolted into this rapidly expanding riot, I saw the kinder folks on the move trying to get out. Lawn chairs, blankets and children tightly grasped... running for their LIVES! Hahahahaha. I took three or 5 out with elbows and doc martin ninja kicks on the way in. I dove into this massive pit and fought my way to the middle. When the momentum hit and the crowd lost balance, people just started falling... like dominos. At the end there layed the crowd... With me standing right in the middle. Fists raised...Stompin. Crazy thing was..I wasn't really a big ramones fan. I was there to see Soundgarden.. Which was good, but the ramones...holy shit. John Peters
Once again fearlessly courting controversy, Lollapalooza 96’s positioning of Metallica in the tour’s headlining slot marked a ballsy break from the festival’s “alternative” roots. Due in part to difficulties locating venues (some communities feared the face-melting rock of Lolla’s heavy-metal headliner), the traveling festival mounted its shorter tour, playing only 22 dates. Alt-rockers still represented, though, with several artists from past years reprising their appearances including Soundgarden, the Violent Femmes and Rage Against The Machine.
With the Metallica booking grabbing headlines, it went largely unnoticed that a third “Indie” stage had been added, featuring under-the-radar acts like Korn, who would go on to shake up the world of modern metal. Beside the kickboxing Shaolin Monks on the main stage, Lollapalooza 1996 actually featured one of the most varied lineups in the festival’s history, putting artists as different as Devo, Soul Coughing, Cornershop, and even country legend Waylon Jennings on the bill.
Playing host to the end of an era, punk rock legends The Ramones blitzkrieged their second-to-last bop at the festival’s August 4th date in Irvine, California.